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Is it Legal to Trade Tuition for Teaching Classes?
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MATA Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course
Module 21-The Proper Use of Student Instructors
by Scot Conway, Esquire
The $25,000 Volunteers
Excerpt from the Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course:
Using upper ranks to teach classes has been a long-standing martial arts tradition. But, is it legal?
A California instructor had his black belts teaching under-rank classes at his studio. In exchange, he no longer charged them tuition.
This continued until one fateful day when the owner and a black belt student had a disagreement.
The vindictive student contacted the California Labor Board and reported that his instructor had been employing assistants by requiring that they teach classes each week.
This can constitute an Employer – Worker relationship. The only thing missing was payment for the workers and the taxes the government would collect if they were being paid.
The State of California investigators concluded that the owner, over the years, had a total of 25 black belts teach classes.
They defined them as uncompensated employees, which is illegal under the laws of California, and fined the instructor $1,000 per incident.
The final bill: $25,000 for the volunteers.
Lesson: Know your state laws regarding utilizing assistant instructors.
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